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Literary Elements Basic
Terms in this set (80)
assigning human qualities to inanimate objects or concepts.
the presentation of two contrasting ideas. The ideas are balanced by phrase, clause, or paragraphs.
a figure of speech wherein the author groups apparently contradictory terms. "jumbo shrimp" and "cruel kindness."
bitter, caustic language designed to hurt or ridicule someone or something. Often satirical or verbally ironic.
Part as representative of the whole. "All hands on deck"
deliberate exaggeration or overstatement
repetition of a word, phrase, or clause at the beginning of two or more sentences in a row.
The central idea or message of a work, the insight it offers into life. Usually unstated in fictional works, but in nonfiction may be directly stated, especially in expository or argumentative writing.
A type of metaphor in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it. "The White House declared," from the Greek meaning "changed label" or "substitute name"
A statement that appears to be self-contradictory or opposed to common sense but upon closer inspection contains some degree of truth or validity. "I'm lying to you right now."
a comparison of two unlike things, not using like or as. "Your eyes are stars"
Anything that represents, stands for, something else. Usually concrete—such as an object, action, character, or scene—that represents something more abstract.
an emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language.
the opposite of exaggeration. It is a technique for developing irony and/or humor where one writes or says less than intended.
This term literally means "sermon," but more informally, it can include any serious talk, speech, or lecture involving moral or spiritual advice.
a more acceptable and usually more pleasant way of saying something that might be inappropriate or uncomfortable. "He went to his final reward" for "he died."
A work that targets human vices and follies or social institutions and convention for reform or ridicule. Often uses imitation, irony, and/or sarcasm.
The repetition of sounds at the beginning of words, such as "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."
The telling of a story or an account of an event or series of events.
an appeal based on the character/reputation/ credibility of the speaker.
a type of irony in which events turn out the opposite of what was expected.
an appeal based on emotion.
a deductive system of formal logic that presents two premises that inevitably lead to a sound conclusion. A=B, B=C, so A=C. "All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal."
an appeal based on logic or reason
In this type of irony, the words literally state the opposite of the writer's true meaning
A story or brief episode told by the writer or a character to illustrate a point.
the literal or dictionary meaning of a word
In this type of irony, facts or events are unknown to a character in a play or a piece of fiction but known to the reader, audience, or other characters in the work
A work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic effect and/or ridicule.
the feelings or emotions surrounding/associated with a word, beyond its literal meaning. Generally positive or negative in nature.
The duplication, either exact or approximate, or any element of language, such as sound, word, phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern.
The grammatical structure of prose and poetry.
Two definitions/uses. One refers to the total "sound" of the writer's style.The second refers to the relationship between a sentence's subject and verb (active and passive).
Writing that attempts to prove the validity of a point of view or an idea by presenting reasoned arguments; persuasive writing is a form of argumentation
A reference to another work outside of the present work.
The major category into which a literary work fits. The basic divisions of literature are prose, poetry, and drama.
A narrative technique that places the reader in the mind and thought process of the narrator, no matter how random and spontaneous that may be.
A work that functions on a symbolic level (a type of extended symbolism)
similarity in structure and syntax in a series of related words, phrases, clauses, sentences, or paragraphs that develops balance. Ex. "When you are right, you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative"- MLK
Drawing a comparison to show a similarity in some respect. It is assumed that what applies to a parallel situation also applies to the original circumstance.
A rhetorical mode based in the five senses. It aims to re-create, invent, or present something so that the reader can experience it.
the techniques and rules for using language effectively, eloquently, and persuasively.
Third Person Limited
Point of view in which narrator exists outside of all characters, but is privy to the feelings and thoughts of one character, presenting only the actions of all remaining characters
Third Person Omniscient
Point of view in which an all-knowing narrator who is privy to the thoughts and actions of any or all characters.
one who carries out the action of the plot in literature. Major, minor, static, and dynamic are the types.
Slang in writing, used often to create local color and to provide an informal tone. Twain's Huck Finn
the word, phrase, or clause that a pronoun refers to.
The sentence or group of sentences that directly expresses the author's opinion, purpose, meaning, or proposition.
Attitudes and presuppositions of the author that are revealed by their linguistic choices (diction, syntax, rhetorical devices)
The literary genre that is written in ordinary language and most closely resembles everyday speech. Opposite of verse.
Commas used (with no conjunction) to separate a series of words, speeds up flow of sentence. X, Y, Z as opposed to X, Y, and Z.
Point of View
Who tells a story and how it is told. (1st, 2nd, 3rd limited, 3rd omniscient)
reasoning from the general to the particular (or from cause to effect). "Teenagers cause the most car accidents. You're a teenager, you will get in a car accident."
the author's choice of words that creates tone, attitude, and style, as well as meaning
expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence. Has both a subject and a verb.
does not express a complete thought and cannot stand alone as a sentence, even though it has a subject and a verb,
short, witty statement of truth
when a speaker address someone/something that isn't there. Ex. "Are you there God? It's me, Mr. Ginley."
A metaphor that continues beyond it's initial use, can be developed at great length
an overused saying or idea
Deliberate use of many conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted. Hemingway and the Bible both use extensively. Ex. "he ran and jumped and laughed for joy"
reasoning from detailed facts to general principles. Ex. "All of the ice we have examined so far is cold.Therefore, all ice is cold."
a comparison using like or as
repetition of a word or expression at the end of successive phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic effect. Opposite of anaphora. Ex: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child." (Corinthians)
descriptive language that appeals to the sense of smell
descriptive language that appeals to the sense of touch
descriptive language that appeals to the sense of sight
descriptive language that appeals to the sense of taste
use of language to represent an experience pertaining to sound
any agreeable (pleasing and harmonious) sounds. Alliteration, assonance, rhyme all create euphony.
harsh, jarring, discordant sound; dissonance
the reversal of the normal order of words
describes a tone that borders on lecturing, and is overly complex, scholarly, distant, and difficult
placing two elements side by side to present a comparison or contrast
a figure of speech in which natural sounds are imitated in the sounds of words. Simple examples include such words as buzz, hiss, hum.
the speaker, voice, or character assumed by the author of a piece of writing
a narrator whose account of events appears to be faulty, misleadingly biased, or otherwise distorted
the author directly states a character's traits
the author reveals information about a character and his personality through that character's appearance, thoughts, words, and actions
a story that encloses one or more separate stories. (the frame is a vehicle for the stories it contains)
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